The Caminho do Pináculo e Folhadal waterfall hike takes you along the Lombo do Mouro trail with epic ridges, several waterfalls, and incredible views! It’s a long one with 18-kilometers of trail and more than 700 meters of incline throughout the route. It’s a great trail for a sunrise start and if you are lucky you may enjoy some mystical cloud cover over the valley below!
CAMINHO DO PINÁCULO E FOLHADAL WATERFALL HIKE DETAILS
Hike Distance: The total distance of the hike is 18km as part of a circular route. You start and finish at Encumeada Viewpoint (Miradouro da Encumeada).
Hike Duration: The hike can be completed in about 5-7 hours depending on your pace and the length of your breaks. It could be completed as a trail-run in about 2-3 hours for an average runner.
Hike Difficulty: The trail is moderate in difficulty. Obviously you have the long length of the hike, which is 18-kilometers. You need to be in good hiking shape for a trail that length. In terms of the terrain, you can expect rocky uneven paths, wooden stairs, muddy sections, dark narrow tunnels, easy levada sections, and mostly gravel paths. The incline is 700m with two hill sections that aren’t too long but it’s all relative to your hiking ability. Overall, there was nothing that was dramatic and we found it relatively uneventful in terms of danger, intensity, and terrain. It was consistent throughout the route.
Hike Incline: 700 meters if you complete the circular route starting and finishing at Encumeada Viewpoint.
HOW TO GET TO THE TRAILHEAD
This is a pretty straightforward one to find as the hike begins directly from the Encumeada Viewpoint (Miradouro da Encumeada). This is a little viewpoint area with a souvenir shop, cafe, and parking lot. When we arrived at sunrise, nothing was open but we had a beer here after the hike when we returned. The trail begins just below the viewpoint where you can find the white signboard with PR17 and ‘Lombo do Mouro’ on the board. The hike was true to the Madeira App, which we used to follow the route.
I’ve pinned the location of the viewpoint below so you can plan your route to the starting point of the hike.
CAMINHO DO PINÁCULO E FOLHADAL HIKING VLOG
I created a vlog from our hike and thought I would add it in here in case you want in-depth look at the entire hike including some epic drone footage.
MY EXPERIENCE ON THE CAMINHO DO PINÁCULO E FOLHADAL HIKE
After an epic experience at Bica da Cana earlier in the week, I was keen to set off on the Caminho do Pináculo e Folhadal hike as a bit of a longer journey. Part of the trail is the same but much of it was brand new territory and created a totally different experience. The sunrise experience we had at Bica da Cana viewpoint was so epic, we decided to start this hike during sunrise also. I spent the morning drive hoping for clouds to roll in through the valley, but it wasn’t to be.
When we arrived at the Encumeada Viewpoint there were no clouds floating through and also no other people around. We parked the car and began the hike as the pre-sunset glow gave us enough light to guide the way.
The trail began alongside the levada with a few chickens wandering amidst the agapanthus, it was true Madeira style to begin the trek. The constant throughout this trail was the overhanging rocks, which at times were beautiful while in other moments gave us some nervous thoughts as we saw a few rockfalls and landslides that had fallen onto the trail. Needless to say, we didn’t stand under the natural verandah of these overhanging cliffs for too long.
In the first few kilometers of the trail, you will need your headlamp at the ready. The route sends you into some dark and mysterious tunnels, which are incredibly long. One of the tunnels had to be almost 1-kilometer and seemed to go on forever. Inside the tunnel is a narrow pathway beside the levada, which makes for a nervous walk as you try to stay upright without hitting your head on the low-lying rocks of the tunnel roof.
As the sun began to break through the jagged peaks in the distance, the valley slowly filled with shimmering, golden light. We were rewarded after our early start.
The first point of interest on the trail is a waterfall that cascades down onto a small plateau next to the trail. We did this hike in the late summer, so the waterfall hadn’t seen any rain in a while but it still had a mellow flow. In the winter you can expect this to be a bit more ferocious.
After hiking lots of trails on Madeira, I rated this one right up there. It had lots of beautiful scenery along the hike with some really dense areas of forest with vines and trees criss-crossing over the top of the path at will. Agapanthus often lined the trail as did many beautiful wildflowers.
The incline of the hike is just over 700 meters for the route I took. The climbs are split up into two sections. The first climb is about 250 meters up some very steep stairs during the most humid part of the hike. It comes early in the route but don’t worry the hike gets easier as it continues.
My favorite part of the hike was the narrow ridgeline that connects the route through the valley. There are safety railings on each side to make sure you stay on the ridge and away from the huge drop-off down into the valley below. What this huge drop-off means is that you have unobstructed views all the way to Sao Vicente at the coastline in one direction and to the mountains in the heart of Madeira in the other direction. If you squint, you can even see Pico do Arieiro and Pico Ruivo.
We followed the trail on the Madeira App exactly as it was shown but we actually never made our way to the base of the big Folhadal waterfall. When we made it to the pass/ridge section, we could see the waterfall in the distance. I actually flew my drone over to it to check it out. I assumed the route would pass us by it later on throughout the trail but it never did. Therefore, if you want to visit it, make sure to take a detour from the official trail early in the hike as otherwise, this route doesn’t specifically drop you off there. You can see it from the ridge crossing but it is quite small in the distance.
After the ridge crossing, you will begin the second climb of the hike. The incline is much more gradual in this section as you join back up with the Bica da Cana route. During this section of the hike, you are on your way to the famous pinnacle/Pináculo. First, though, you need to pass through several waterfalls that pour down over the trail. Even in the summer, we got quite wet passing through these falls, which was refreshing in the midday heat!
At the pinnacle, we stopped for lunch beneath the huge rock formation. I was too tired this time, but on my first visit to the pinnacle I actually climbed the thing all the way to the top.
The trail led to the cliff wall of the pinnacle and then that was it. It didn’t go around the sides. It was up or nothing. I decided to go up a few meters and see if I could continue. I did that twice and then I just went for it, hoping I would continue to find good footholds and handgrips as I climbed my way up the wall. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone who isn’t an experienced climber. The rocks were a little loose in parts and there was no defined route. I even found old ropes and carabiners tied to trees but the ropes looked like they had been cut years ago.
After about twenty minutes, I managed to see some sunlight from deep in the trees and realized I was close to the summit. Near the top, trees and bushes made it easier to climb up off the wall and I eventually stepped foot on top of the pinnacle. The views were beyond worth it. I had front row seats to the heart of Madeira Island.
Once you have finished admiring the pinnacle, it’s time to continue on into the last segment of the trail. I honestly didn’t expect much from the rest of the trail as I thought we were just a straight shot back to the starting point. However, we began to wind around the cliff-edge and the views got better and better as we peered back towards the pinnacle whenever we found a gap in the trees.
With just a few kilometers to go we reached one of the best parts of the trail where we descended down the cliff with epic backdrops of the central mountains featuing Pico Ruivo and Pico do Arieiro in full view.
The trail descends down onto the road where you have to walk back the final couple of kilometers through the tunnels. There’s no footpath but you can always hear the cars coming and shuffle to one side. Even the road was super scenic, which is par for the course on Madeira.
Overall, I thought this was a great hike. I was a bit confused about the waterfall but that involves a little detour I guess. Let me know in the comments below if you do this hike and visit the waterfall.
ADVENTURE BAG FROM THE CAMINHO DO PINÁCULO E FOLHADALHIKE
This is an adventure bag. It is full of trash. Every time I go on an adventure I collect one adventure bag full of trash. It’s my small way of saying thanks to mother nature for allowing me to enjoy her beautiful creations. If we have time to go on an adventure we have time to collect an adventure bag on the way back out of the trail once we have enjoyed the waterfall, the hike, or the beach. Adventure hard!
Tag your Adventure Bag on Instagram and mention @adventurebagcrew in your Instagram stories and we will repost your Adventure Bag photo to help inspire your friends, family, and followers to join the movement!
I hope you enjoyed this guide about the Caminho do Pináculo e Folhadal waterfall hike.